Congressman Alan Lowenthal today joined Senator Bernard Sanders, Representative Keith Ellison and 29 other House Members to introduce new legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
According to the release, roughly 62 million U.S. workers make less than $15 per hour, including more than 50 percent of African-American workers and close to 60 percent of Latino workers. About half (46 percent) of workers making less than $15 per hour are age 35 or older.
The Pay Workers a Living Wage Act would raise the federal minimum wage in four steps over the course of four years, to end with a $15 minimum wage four years from the date of passage.
“Hard-working Americans deserve to make a living wage and not be relegated to subsistence wages providing only the bare necessities for eating, sleeping, and getting to work with no opportunity to obtain the American Dream, said Congressman Lowenthal in a statement. “No American should be forced into the harsh spiral of paying to work and working to pay. We are the most prosperous nation on the planet and we can do better.”
While American workers are among the most productive in the world, in most industries the share of revenues going to wages has dropped, while the share going to profits has soared. According to the release, if the minimum wage had been raised since 1968 at the same rate as inflation and productivity (the rate at which the average worker produces income for the employer), it would be $26 per hour.
Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles have already raised their minimum wage to $15, while increases are being considered in other cities across the country including Washington, D.C., Sacramento, California, Olympia, Washington, Kansas City, Missouri, Delaware, and Massachusetts.
A national poll released in January of this year showed that 63 percent of Americans, representing all demographics, support the federal wage being raised to $15.
To read the full bill, click here.